Introduction to the Guild of Paladins (book)

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Sir Darian's Introduction to the Guild of Paladins

 INTRODUCTION:             PAGE 2
 CH.1 Initial Training:    PAGE 3
 CH.2 Equipping:           PAGE 6
 CH.3 Starting Out:        PAGE 9
 CH.4 General Tips:        PAGE 12
 CH.5 Etiquette:           PAGE 13


Though I offer in this tome my own wisdom won through years of experience in the field, it is my duty to offer first a warning. For, you see, to be a paladin is not to seek power and mastery over others, but to submit to service and responsibility. With great sorrow I have in recent years watched the rise of a new breed of paladin. Where once a paladin spent much of his time among the common folk teaching and giving aid where possible, many now spend almost every waking minute consumed blindly with short-term goals of rank. Such activity will not bring respect to you or our guild. There are more important considerations than mere power. But forgive an old man his ramblings. Let us focus on what we can be, rather than what we are not.

-Sir Darian Sorrendal

CHAPTER 1: Initial Training

Despite the decades that have passed since I took my oath, still I recall the chaos that surrounded my first weeks as a squire. Before a paladin takes to the field of combat, he must first build his strength and enhance his mind. In retrospect, it is clear where my confusion lay. For while training in other guilds was specialized (or so it seemed to the naive boy that I was), a paladin was expected to be all things at once. We needed to be immensely strong to carry the weight of our equipment, yet have the self-discipline and intelligence to spend hours in study and prayer without becoming distracted. We needed the endurance to fight for hours if need be, while remaining quick on our feet to avoid the blows of our enemy. It may be of little comfort, but the years have taught me that all these things are true.

It may be tempting to spend all your time running and sparring, building your strength to rival that of any man, but a paladin is a scholar as well as a knight. A paladin with the strength of an ox is no asset if he has the mind of an ox as well. The best advice I can give is to become strong enough to feel comfortable in the heavy armor that is the mark of our guild, and then immediately turn to other pursuits.

What a shock the weight of your first suit of plate is! But with training, the burden becomes less and less. Once you no longer feel as if you are being crushed by the sheer weight of metal encasing your body, it is paramount to learn to move and react quickly to any threat. If someone had told me when my training began that I must move as if my armor were a second skin, I should have believed them to be mad, but now I tell the same to you. Sheer strength will make your blows mighty, but if they do not land, your strength is useless. The time you spend learning to move as lithely as a dancer will prove invaluable.

Having become strong and at least moderately quick, a paladin is prepared for his first combat. But a knight can not be a dullard! Though it may be inevitable that you will spend more time training your body than your mind, do not neglect either. With regard to scholarly pursuits, the discipline to bear hardship, the wit to understand the most difficult of problems, and the wisdom to know right from wrong are all equally important.

Lastly, as a paladin you must strive to be a leader of men. No one will follow someone with the personality of a rock. Though it may provide less tangible benefit, a charismatic leader will have an easier time in the long run. It is wise to work on your charm about as often the pursuits of your mind.

In summary, a paladin's goal in training is to remain as strong as possible, to be able to move as quickly in attack as in defense, and to spend about equal amount of time on each of the more scholarly pursuits as on your charm. Maintaining a balance between mind and body is perhaps the most difficult tasks facing a young paladin.

CHAPTER 2: Equipping.

No doubt by now you wish for nothing more than to charge into battle, and enough with all this lecturing. I remember all too well the brashness of youth. Rest assured, I will do my best to prepare you for combat. Once you have completed your initial training, it is time to equip. At first it will be impossible to afford more than the bare essentials, but try to make sure that every part of your body is covered by your armor. I've seen many a youngster carried into town, his armor untouched, with a bloody hole where his eye used to be.

At the earliest opportunity you should purchase a chain shirt, or a breastplate if you have not the funds. A visored helm will protect your head and eyes, an aventail your neck. Vambraces and tassets cover your arms and abdomen, respectively. Greaves cover your legs, and of course gloves and gauntlets protect your hands. Some types of armor are large enough to protect multiple locations, simply appraise the piece in question to find out. In almost all cases, light or heavy plate should be purchased as soon as it can be afforded. If you want to wear light armor, you've joined the wrong guild. Armor is a paladin's lifeblood, and no expense should be spared.

With regard to weapons, a simple broadsword provides an excellent starting place. It is certainly not elegant, but it is fairly powerful and serves any warrior well. If you are strong and inclined to close quarters, blunt weapons such as a ball and chain are a fine choice. Finally, a two-handed sword will strike fear into the heart of your foe, but will also leave you open to attack. Perhaps the most popular choice among paladins is carrying both one-handed and two-handed weapons to deal with any situation. If you are strong enough to bear the weight of multiple weapons, this approach lends itself to great versatility. It has always been my opinion that you can never have too many blades at your disposal. Always remember that a paladin's weapon becomes not a mere tool, but an extension of his body, so choose one that suits you well.

If you have been hoping for advice regarding ranged weapons, I say get yourself to the ranger guild where you belong! A paladin should be at the front of the charge, standing shoulder to shoulder with his fellow warriors, not at the back of the line, plinking away at the enemy like a coward. Some knights have advocated slinging a crossbow over their shoulders so that a single bolt can be loosed at the enemy while they charge in. Though it sticks in my gut, I suppose it is acceptable as long as it does not interfere with real combat.

CHAPTER 3: Starting Out.

Now we get to the heart of the matter! Savor your youth, for the excitement of leading a band of your fellows against a superior foe for the first time is incomparable. A young paladin on his first journey into the wilds can not expect to fight like a hardened knight, however. It is my hope that I can make the first months of your life a little easier by preventing needless death. There are, I have found, three basic strategies for a young paladin trying to make his way in the world.

First, there are many paladins more experienced in the ways of the world than you. Presenting yourself at the guild and asking them to share their knowledge of arms with you is the safest course. A few hours of learning to wield a sword under the tutelage of an older paladin will increase your chances of surviving greatly. In fact, I recommend learning anything that they are willing to teach you. Even though you no doubt wish to rush to the enemy as quickly as your legs will take you, in the long run the time spent in our guild simply listening to your brethren share their knowledge will prove the more useful.

The second method for learning the ways of combat involves a rather inelegant task. The dockyards in any town are often infested with large rats. Though they may not be the most imposing of foes, a paladin can learn much about combat by practicing on nothing more than such vermin. Because they are weak foes, training in this way is relatively safe and can be done alone. Fighting by yourself can quickly become tiresome, but you may find it to be occasionally desirable.

Perhaps more popular (with good reason) than practicing on rats is an expedition to combat the goblins who raid the countryside. Goblins can be a cunning foe for a young paladin, so find a partner to hunt with. You will find that hunting with others is always safer and often more rewarding than hunting by yourself. Hunting goblins brings more tangible benefits as well, as they often carry coins they have stolen from peaceful countryfolk. Wealth is not evil, as long as it does not become your focus. In fact, the maintenance of your armor and weapons will require at least some money, so finding a partner and hunting goblins will be necessary at some point.

Hunting rats and goblins will help you to increase your skill, but they are not pursuits for a hardened knight. Eventually, you will wish to seek a more challenging foe. Be extremely careful about venturing against a tougher enemy, and always fight in pairs or groups until you are comfortable. Wood trolls, rock trolls, and faenrae reavers all are extremely dangerous for the over-zealous paladin.

CHAPTER 4: General Tips

The bane of a paladin's existence is the requirement to become ever more able to maneuver in heavy armor. If this proves to be the case for you as well, you may find that the faenrae reavers provide the best foe to train against. Though agile and quick, most reavers fight with only a small falcata, unable to often penetrate the heaviest armors. Training in reavers can prevent many interruptions involving unpleasant things like bleeding and death.

When you have progressed far enough to being to learn the ways of holy magic, perhaps the best place to being is with the Courage spell. The Courage spell can be practiced on yourself, to improve your aptitude for magic. Being able to practice on yourself is invaluable at times!

It is inevitable that you will eventually be struck down by a stronger or just luckier foe. Make sure to have gained favor with your god at least twice at all times! If you do not see why this is important, a trip to the cemetery will provide many interesting examples of people who didn't believe my advice.

Lastly, always be generous with healers! This seems obvious to me, but I am often amazed at how many people take the services of empaths for granted. Be as giving as you can afford at all times. Empaths have saved the lives of countless paladins, and we owe them a debt we can never fully repay.

CHAPTER 5: Etiquette

An old knight like me can get away with a little surliness through privilege of age, but for an initiate in the order the most important (and most often overlooked) thing is courtesy! Always, always try to be courteous to others, both in our guild and outside it. There may be times when someone makes it impossible to be polite, but always, always be as courteous as possible for as long as possible.

One of the most useful and abused tools at our disposal is a gwethdesuan. These 'far-speakers' are often used for such inane and useless drivel as to make an old man sick. One aspect of courtesy is respecting other's peace of mind! Overuse of a gwethdesuan is one of the most common breaches of protocol for young people. Try to avoid that trap at all times!

When you encounter someone in the wilds in combat with an enemy, always ask for permission if you want to engage. Simply advancing on an enemy that a fellow citizen is fighting shows ignorance and a lack of respect. The exception being if someone appears to be in grave danger, for example if they are stunned or bleeding. It is better to appear a little over-eager than allow someone to die.

Likewise, simply setting up camp in an area and claiming every enemy that appears is boorish behavior. It is sometimes necessary to face more than one opponent for a length of time, but never let it become excessive. When you see one person with a dozen foes around them, feel free to cut down their numbers a bit. Only a buffoon tries to claim that many foes as his own!

If you act with courtesy and respect for others, you are fulfilling your oath as a paladin. As I have said, too many people today focus on the trivialities. It is not our strength or our magic that sets us apart, it is our compassion. If you remember nothing but that one fact, I have accomplished what I set out to do, and I sleep easier tonight.

-Sir Darian Sorrendal